Utah ski workforce discusses determination to go to White House as a part of NCAA champions celebration

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Evan Vucci, Associated Press

President Donald Trump poses for images with the University of Utah ski workforce throughout an occasion with NCAA championship groups on the White House, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Washington. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is to the appropriate of the President.

SALT LAKE CITY —For a few years earlier than this one, visiting the White House has been seen as one of the particular components of the title celebration for skilled and collegiate groups that win championships.

Since Donald Trump grew to become president of the United States in January, nevertheless, the selection of whether or not to go has been extra extensively debated, with some squads opting to not go.

As winners of the 2017 NCAA snowboarding championship in March, the Utah Utes had been confronted with that call once they acquired the invitation on Nov. 7 to go to Washington, D.C.

On Friday, 10 members of the 2017 workforce took the journey (of the 2 who did not, one will not be on the workforce in 2018, whereas one other is at a contest in Colorado this weekend), with a photograph having gone viral of them “flashing the U” with the president and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Director of snowboarding Kevin Sweeney didn’t go.

“Everyone was given the selection,” mentioned head nordic coach Abi Holt of the workforce’s determination to go. “It is a charged climate these days, so we didn’t make the trip mandatory, and we didn’t sit it out. We just let everyone choose for themselves.”

Holt mentioned the choice of whether or not to go offered the workforce a possibility to have a considerate dialogue.

“It’s traditionally been a celebration, and it’s a little bit different decision these days, but I think the distinction between going there to honor (Trump’s) achievements versus going there for the team to be honored, to me that was an important distinction in my decision to attend that event,” she mentioned.

Sophomore Martin Bergstrom, who gained two particular person NCAA championships, echoed these sentiments.

“There’s obviously always discussions about Trump,” he mentioned. “For sure, there were discussions, but this trip was not about supporting or not supporting. It was being part of the NCAA champions day with all the other teams that showed up, and being honored for the success and the athletic performance we had last year. Nothing more than that.”

Having arrived at its lodge in Washington, D.C., simply earlier than 2 a.m. on Friday, the workforce then obtained to the White House at about 10 a.m. Attendees went via a number of safety checkpoints however then had a great deal of freedom to discover the East Wing, albeit with a bevy of Marines and Secret Service personnel shut by.

Toward the top of their two-and-a-half hour keep, the Utes obtained to stroll via the Rose Garden and spend time within the Oval Office.

“In a country with term limits, Trump will be gone in eight years, if not sooner, but the history of the Oval Office is pretty overwhelming, and even more so to be standing there,” Holt mentioned. “We were there for two-and-a-half hours in the White House, and just the experience and the opportunity to be there, it was a special opportunity.”

Added Bergstrom, who hails from Sweden: “Walking in the White House, seeing the Oval Office and being in the Oval Office, because there is so much history in Washington as a whole, was kind of mind-blowing to me … For me, coming from Sweden, that was really, really interesting.”


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Ultimately, the workforce’s time with the president and DeVos was about 90 seconds, Holt mentioned, throughout which one in every of her workforce members instructed all of them “flash the U” for a photograph.

“I think for us it’s so automatic,” she mentioned. “It’s rare if we pose for a team photo that we don’t flash the U. It’s almost second nature for this group, but I don’t know if I would have expected them to go along with it. Then, all the sudden, there we were.”

The Utes will start protection of their title in January.



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